"THE ARRANGEMENT": A FILM BY MY PARENT'S NEIGHBOR ELIA KAZAN
The above is a long-ish theatrical trailer for Elia Kazan's 1969 film "The Arrangement", starring Kirk Douglas and Faye Dunaway and based on Kazan's bestselling novel. The trailer begins in an unusual way, focusing on Kazan himself as the subject of interest. Gradually we get into some very swinging looking scenes, both indicative of and mocking toward the period the film takes place in, which is the time it was made during. My impression from the trailer is that Kazan looked upon the late 1960s with something of a jaundiced eye even as they were occurring under his own watch. Certainly the swagger of the design and speech belies a suspicion of all that was current and mod.
Kazan disliked the film and speaks ill of it in his superbly compelling autobiography, the starkly titled "A Life". He'd wanted Brando and he got Kirk Douglas. His sense from the beginning of the shoot was that they were going down the wrong path and all he could do was "finish the job...I was in for nine weeks during which there'd be a gnawing at my stomach every morning...as always the crew saved me...". But I wonder. The film looks quite interesting and the trailer has encouraged me to make more than a half-hearted attempt to locate and watch it.
Now here's where my parents (and I for that matter) come in. In the 1960s, we lived on West 67th Street, right off of Central Park West. Kazan and his wife Barbara Loden lived in a brownstone on West 68th, a mere block away. My mother would wheel me around the neighborhood in my baby carriage and often see the famous director taking a walk. He would nod pleasantly to her and smile at me. She'd smile back. (I don't remember what I did). No words were ever exchanged--just neighborly recognition that they were both denizens of the same Upper West Side neighborhood. Cut to 1969. My family relocated to California and bought a home in the Hollywood Hills. It had a split driveway--each house shared half of the driveway before veering off into their own parking areas. No sooner had we moved in than my parents found out that the house across the driveway was being rented by a famous director who was in Hollywood shooting a big Kirk Douglas movie. Yes, it was the Kazans who lived across the way. My mother remembered seeing him by the mailboxes at the bottom of the hill several times. She smiled timidly at him, not mentioning their former silent encounters three-thousand miles away. Kazan would smile back but with a slightly puzzled look; wasn't that the woman who...? For years my mother feared that Kazan thought we'd stalked him across the country, determined to not let him live more than a few hundred feet from us. No explanation was ever given. None was possible...
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Posted by Raymond De Felitta at 2:17 PM